These are absolutely fantastic. Austin and Portland have slogans that say things like “Keep Austin/Portland weird.” Well I think Japan should have the same but this is one of those things….that keeps Japan cutting edge. The famous capsule hotel. Things book up fast in Japan and at $30/night this was all that was available. I didn’t care…I really wanted to try it anyways!! I was soooo exited to finally get to stay in a capsule hotel. For me, I felt somewhat like Bill Murray in The movie “Lost in Translation.” Confused, definitely out of place, I felt like I was truly in an alien world. So what is the capsule hotel? It is a place where tired business men and people that don’t want to commute home after a few beers catch a few zzzz’s. An affordable plastic white Star Wars sleeping capsule for sleeping with all the comforts of a hotel room including a bed, tv, AC, radio, and alarm clock. A dormitory so to speak lined with hundreds of individual sleeping modules. The capsule itself was stacked two high and mine fortunately was on the bottom. As I opened the cargo door to enter my plastic caffin, I was expecting a stuffy clausterphobic tomb that simulated being buried alive. To my surprise, I noticed there was room. Lots of room. Laying down I couldn’t even reach the top. In fact I had another foot or so of room to the ceiling. On my side there was a full cockpit of controls which I took as a game of “what’s this button do?” to figure out. I then look up and see that I have my own tv. Awesome!!! How cool is this!! Japanese TV!! There’s buttons for sound, tv, radio, alarm, and few extra mystery buttons I never figured out. At the top there is an air vent that allows a perfect flow of temperature controlled air to get the cockpit at your desired temp.
The capsule hotel experience doesn’t stop there. There’s also locker room downstairs for all your luggage. After all you couldn’t have all these people keeping luggage in the hallway. In my locker there was a couple of towels and an obi wan kanobi outfit to lounge around in.
There are actually a few lounge areas filled with business men watching tv and sitting in the latest brookstone massage chairs buzzing at full massage speed. So for those of you who don’t know, Japanese showering and body cleaning is different than what we have in the west. They take baths. The bathing room is located on bottom floor. As I entered the room, there’s dozens of naked men and some chilling in there obi wan kanobi outfits..another tv, more lockers, and more massage chairs. There’s even sinks with hair dryers and other miscellaneous toiletry items that I have no clue what they are used for. The bathing room is located in the next room. I undress and enter the bathing room where I see an Olympic size pool that is roughly 3 feet deep and filled with boiling water. There’s another pool with bubbles and then there’s a sauna. But you can’t enter the giant hot tub bath before washing. Remember the rule of showering before you enter the pool as a kid, the one that nobody abided by. Well, in Japan that is not the case. They take this pre shower thing very seriously. The showers are more like plastic stools that you sit on with a removable shower handle accompanied with face wash, soap, shampoo, and conditioners. There’s even a personal mirror. I have always considered myself a clean guy. I like to take long showers….but the Japanese could probably hog a shower for hours. If you ever have a Japanese over, make sure you have plenty of hot water and two bathrooms. So as I sit on the stool to follow suit on my pre bath cleaning. I lather up…and see guys scrubbing like they are entering a decontamination zone. I finished my washing but noticed the guys that were sitting next to me and were there before me were still scrubbing. Every sq. inch and oriface is scrubbed for minutes….or should I say half hours. I was ready to do my cannonball into the giant hot tub but these guys were still washing and exfoliating. How dirty were these guys? Seriously…”did they play in manure all day?” I am like “guys, come on…I think we are clean…lets jump in.” As a traveler, I am very observant of what other people are doing so that I cut down on cultural faux pos. I did not want to be the dirty American who just ruined that bath water for everyone. These guys were sitting there when I entered the room so I felt I had to wait and clean some more before entering. I couldn’t have these guys judge me…so I continued lathering, lathering, lathering…..until I was rubbed raw when finally one got…”yup we are clean fellows….okay to enter the pool”. Now we enter…nobody talks, nobody even looks at each other. We are just naked men taking a bath together in a giant pool. This is peaceful time for Japanese and everyone enters into meditative relaxation mode. And the hot bath experience ensures, the best night of sleep ever. After my face was tomato red and I couldn’t handle it anymore, I get out where we repeat the soaping and washing. I then return to the club house locker room to chill. I give my nod to the other gentlemen, “good bath, everyone.” I have to say….we are really missing out in the west by not having these. For clarification, everyday they drain the hot pool and scrub it Japanese clean so it doesn’t feel like entering your typical gross western hot tub.